Saturday, February 18, 2012

Unconditional Love...Ponderings on Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves... Part ONE

"Parenting is a path of maturation and growth if we dare to learn more and teach less."
~Naomi Aldort

I have been working my way through the book, Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves: Transforming parent-child relationships from reaction and struggle to freedom, power and joy by Naomi Aldort

I gotta say, this book is challenging my socks off. I am only a few chapters into the book and I have been humbled and challenged. I struggle with feelings. I have had a LOT of growth over the last 5 years. I have gone from a very emotionally constipated person, to some one who can generally accept all my feelings (small and nice, big and ugly) with maturity. But it's a slow process, and I generally need some time to work them out internally. I still struggle in the heat of the moment, especially if other people are having a lot of feelings too.

Which leads me to my children... Their feelings overwhelm me. I am not making excuses for myself, but I can see from a logical side why this is, personality. One of the unique things about my personality type (MyersBriggs: INFj) is that I can be an emotional sponge. Some might say God gave me an extra giant dose of empathy...I literally feel what they feel. When they get sick, I physically feel their pain (or nausea, or aches). When they have big feelings, and I am in a place where I haven't taken enough time for myself to process and work out some "backed up" feelings of my own...When I am already struggling to work every thing out, or at least do damage control, I can't handle what they are feeling. I almost feel a bit of panic, like it's personal. They are dumping more on me! I don't want to know! I want it to stop NOW!! And I don't mean maybe. I shut down my empathy mode completely and become hard. In order to protect myself my main emotion becomes anger. Often times I just lose it, I get loud. I try to scare them (not on purpose, but when I step away this is essentially what I'm doing!) I demand that they stop feeling. STOP!!! I can't handle your feelings, I can't handle MINE right now- I don't like them. And those noises you are making are HORRIFIC. CUT IT OUT!!!!!!!
It's every thing I didn't want for my children. I want to raise emotionally healthy adults. People who know how to accept and handle their feelings appropriately. Adults who don't "stuff" and ignore their feelings until they are so constipated that they lose it.

I'm not really accomplishing  that goal right now. At all.

And with two (well...three but she's a bitty yet!) VERY passionate, strongly individual, and extremely emotional girls...We have a LOT, and I mean a LOT, of feelings flying around in an hour..Let alone a day!
  I'm not going to defend myself here, or explain away bad parenting. Let's just say- there is grace- and I want to make changes.

Which leads to me lessons I'm learning from having a newborn in the house.
This peanut feels a lot. Even in her sleep her face is the full spectrum of expressions...When she's in light sleep grimaces, smiles, frowns, scowls, and pouty lips all run across her face in the matter of seconds.

I don't get angry at her for crying. I love to make her feel safe and happy. I can't make her stop her feelings, even if I wanted to! She is what she is, and it's a joy to hold her and take care of her. And even when she's upset and I can't help her- it's frustrating, but I never feel angry or like I'm doing some thing wrong (it's nice to be a 3rd time Mom! I like how much more relaxed I am...Just sayin).

But when she's up at 4a.m. crying because she is a bit gassy and needs to poop (hey, every body does it!) and I can't make it happen. I'm at peace, I'm tired, and wish I could do it for her...But I'm at peace. When did I lose that? When did I lose that unconditional love for my older two?

And what steps do I need to take to get it back?

And that's where I'm being challenged. Over the next several posts I'd like to explore practical ways that this is playing out (internally and externally) in my life.

More to come in Part TWO

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